Mark Tuinei parlayed a chance to walk on with the National Football League (NFL) Dallas Cowboys as a defensive lineman into a 15-year career with the Cowboys as an offensive lineman from 1983 to 1997. He was a two-time all-pro selection, 1994 and 1995, and he helped his team win three Super Bowl Championships in 1993, 1994 and 1996.

Tuinei played high school football at Punahou School, and played college football at UCLA and the University of Hawai’i. A “gentle giant” at 6’5″ and 315 lbs, Tuinei protected quarterback, Troy Aikman, and run-blocked for running back, Emmitt Smith, both NFL Hall of Famers.

Tuinei cared about his local brothers in the NFL, and he was an inspiration to a host of aspiring football players in Hawai’i. As he grew up in Nanakuli, he initiated a $10,000 annual scholarship award at his high school alma mater, Punahou, for youngsters from the Leeward Coast.

Tuinei’s desire to help the youngsters along the Waianae Coast, was cut short with the news of his passing in 1999, at the age of 39, of an accidental drug overdose.

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